Archive for THE BOOK

How the Brain Works, Mindfulness and Meditation Pt. 2

In this episode we discuss How the Brain Works in regards to educational neuroscience with Dr. Lori Desautels of Marian University.  If you want to better understand the reasons behind student behavior and motivation while learning how to start training student’s brains to focus this episode is for you.

Reach out to Dr. Desautels on Twitter @Desautels_Phd

podcast-pt2

 

 

 

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • What a Brain Break is and why you should use them
  • How to validate emotional responses with students
  • How our role as educators has changed in the 21st century

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How the Brain Works, Mindfulness and Meditation Pt. 1

In this episode we discuss How the Brain Works in regards to educational neuroscience with Dr. Lori Desautels of Marian University. If you want to better understand the reasons behind student behavior and motivation while learning how to start training student’s brains to focus this episode is for you.podcast=pt1

 

 

 

Reach out to Dr. Desautels on Twitter @Desautels_Phd

In This Episode You’ll Learn:
•The effects of chronic stress on students brains
•How parts of the brain cause and regulate emotional reactions
•What is the source of most negative behavior
•How to overcome students negative brain bias survival mechanism
•The three step process of bringing mindfulness brain training into the classroom

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Unwritten, The Story of a Living System: A Pathway to Enlivening and Transforming Education

Get Part 2 with Dr. Desautels

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Listen to Lori Live! WZPL 99.5 Thursday March 1st, 7:30am

Listen in live to Lori Desautels discuss “How May I Serve You. Revelations in Education”
WZPL 99.5
Thursday, March 1st, 7:30 am

http://player.streamtheworld.com/_players/entercom/player/?id=WZPL

 

Had a great conversation with Dave Smiley, KJ, Producer Will and Toni on “The Bullying Show” Link to the radio show is below!  Recorded on March 1 2012!

 

 

 

 

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Interview on WGN Radio

Listen to Author Lori Desautels discuss the book “How May I Serve You. Revelations in Education” with Bill Moller on WGN Radio in Chicago.

 

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A Video Introduction About The Book

“How May I Serve You,” represents a bright beacon of hope on ways to solve the numerous problems plaguing America’s educational programs, reaching beyond the walls of schools and reform. The book shares a story inside a story because the brain and heart are attracted to and learn from patterns, emotions, shared perspectives and thoughts discovered inside the stories we share. Story-telling is familiar and a common denominator in all of our lives. We tell them, we read them, we listen to them and we make them up; and sometimes the power of a shared story is enough to reshape and redirect a perspective that broadens our view of life and all its possibilities….

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Find Your Inner Teacher

Below is an excerpt from an article in Pathways, Summer 2010, Volume 15, Number 2.  Download entire Pathways article.

Find Your Inner Teacher

Next to the parents, a heart-inspired teacher is the most important thing for children. Pun intended.
Working with students of all ages, Lori Desautels, Ph.D., has honed the skills of teaching from the heart for more than 25 years. She has helped young people rise above a host of obstacles—environmental, physical and mental health challenges— and to shine. She now brings these special skills to “teach the teachers” in three university programs.

As the mother of two teenagers and a preteen, naturally she has gained a nourishing pantry of “kitchen table wisdom” as well. Lori has seen her own children’s minds evolve and spirits dance, when given the attention of mindful, caring teachers. “People of all ages know when you are listening, intuitively, for what they may need as well as what they say. They know if you’re fully present, in the moment with them. And we all learn more deeply from the safe space of feeling understood. We all want kinship.”

She adds that during middle school years—which is part of her own teaching experience—there’s a conflicted continuumof childhood, adolescence and maturity. “Suddenly, peers’ opinions may take on greater significance than anyone’s, which is ironic in that they’re all bubbling in the same hormonal stew. Especially if there’s a troubling ongoing situation, it’s essential that students not feel judged. At this age, kids gain exponentially from hearing reflective observations and ideas regarding options rather than pat answers; then they can shift from a victim mentality by gaining a greater sense of personal responsibility.”

Lori says her AIHT dissertation research is how she discovered a new educational calling. “I wanted to embrace academic science and spirituality together, and our school principal was supportive. During 40-minute classes for 14 weeks, two groups of students interacted on topics such as: 1. Thoughts are energy, and our thoughts present us with opportunities to act in positive or negative ways; 2. In scientific research, positive thoughts are more than 100 times more powerful than negative thoughts; 3. By choosing to shift our thoughts, students and teachers have the ability to shift many outcomes too. In these classes and subsequent groups, school attendance and GPA improved!”

Encouraged to share her findings with the Dean of Education at Marian University, Lori soon joined the Indianapolis Teaching Fellows as a graduate mentor/supervisor. She also oversees needs assessments within a transitional graduate program, Teach for America, and is an undergraduate instructor.
Her upcoming book is entitled How May I Serve You? A Revelation in Education. Through anecdotes and archetypal mythology, its message for future teachers is to bring esoteric intuitive skills into the mainstream classroom, to “Find your inner teacher.”

In its prologue, Lori writes: “In this new paradigm I encourage you to explore your own perspectives, to see how rigid or pliable they feel. The contrast provided by opposing events or circumstances is the gift IF we choose to experience it that way… if we have the eyes to see and the imagination to delve into the active life of teaching and learning.”

Image Caption: “Ferris Wheel,” a poem by Lori Desautels, Ph.D., was chosen for Illuminations: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience. Also featured among its 180-plus contributors from 43 countries are interviews with metaphysicians Marianne Williamson and Rev. Desmond Tutu, and creativity innovator Julia Cameron.

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Words from educator Brea Thomas

Hugs and Life

There is meaning in a hug—and hugs can be verbal, not just physical. This is what I’ve learned in my few years as a high school English teacher. This notion guides me as I maneuver through this hypersensitive time period in schools when even sideways hugs or complimentary pats on the back are scrutinized.  Though there might be tremendous, and even necessary, restrictions on human caring, I like to challenge myself to address this idea of how to show students that we, teachers, really care, and that they, students, truly matter to us.

It sounds cheesy to us, perhaps, to say that “we care” or that “someone matters” because we’re living in times of cynicism and distrust.  I reflected on this dilemma last August as I began the year with multiple intelligence surveys and interpersonal activities to “get to know” my students.

How can I tell them, I brainstormed, without sounding cheesy, that their smiles and frowns matter; their puzzled and inquisitive brows matter; their sighs and chuckles and complaints—matter to me, and guide my daily teaching? Indeed, every caring teacher will consent to the fact that the  verbals and nonverbals of her/his students get packed away and shuffled home, along with grading and lesson plans, to be analyzed and strategically reworked for the next day.

So, after issuing a three-page syllabus to my 11th Grade AP/IB Language students on Day 2 of last school year, following introductory exercises and “get to know you’s” (as all teachers in our department are advised to do), I noticed that my students were flipping their noses and contorting their faces into the “I don’t care—she must not care, either look.”  So, I decided to write them a poem that would let them know how much I cared.

Night Letter to My Students

I jolt from slumber, and begin the day’s ascent

A sprinter on the track,

A bloom reaching for the sun,


only to stand in my pjs

an ordinary teacher

enveloped by mini mountains of papers and books.


If I were eighteen, I might be pondering

the colors of my nail polish,

and the true meaning of the text message that my friend just sent me,


and the cruelty of a snooze button that won’t last for eternity.

But as it is, I am simply awake,

a teacher in pjs, thought-full


still sensing your distress from the day before

and the furrowing of your brows

and the immensity of the accelerated tasks before us.


The apple cinnamon candles lull me forward

from slumber to coffee, from oatmeal to lunch-packing

and I rampage the kitchen to soothe the morning hunger mountains in my belly.


iTunes have follow me out and down the porch steps

and humming them, I start the engine thinking

It’s a Beautiful Day as Morning’s Potential curls her lips into a smile.


The smell of my mums

waves good luck as I’m off to Our Garden

of classics and classes and clases de classicus…


and there’s something about the street lights

torching against the darkness that makes me emboldened

to continue goading you to torch brightly, effervescently

but perhaps you aren’t even listening


perhaps the droll or daunting of the day, of so many dreams

has you checked-out or singing a different tune—

specs of chalk dust, flecks of markers and pen ink

and she wants us to have binders?


But this is

all that I want to do—

Tell you that in all of this…apples and dust, classics and classes…

and binders

There is meaning, I promise.


–Ms. Thomas


After reading this poem to my students, I noticed that some of them opened up—not, I believe, as a result of any poetic devices or exquisite linguistics, but because I opened up to them and made my caring transparent and personal.  The rest of that initial week of school, I heard fewer moans and groans about books and early lessons, and I even received a few statements of appreciation from them.

So what did I learn from this fifteen minute homework exercise for myself, and the fifteen minutes that it took to share this simplistic poem with my students?  I learned that caring for another is not a manufactured process or action.  It is organic; it is a way of living and breathing each day, hoping for positive results from selfless efforts. This is serving; this is teaching.

This year, as I approach the first weeks of school again, I am smiling—looking forward to the new poem that I will create, and the new bridges that I’ll be able to form with my students, which are centered on genuine caring and serving.  I’m hoping that once again, I will smile as I see some of my students put the new poem in the front cover of the binders that originally groaned about purchasing. Indeed, I’m thrilled that I’ve discovered that such small actions can yield welcomed rewards. It didn’t cost me anything to open up to them, or to show my caring, and the teaching pay-offs were absolutely worth it. 

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Categories: THE BOOK

A Warm Conversation and a Cup of Coffee: Final Revision

A Warm Conversation and a Cup of Coffee
“A Revelation in Education”

“Where you place your eyes is what you will always see”

This book is dedicated to all those teachers who listen to their hearts, teach from this place of innate wisdom, and serve the other in extravagant ways

This book is dedicated to Andrew, my greatest teacher. He keeps life real, tests my patience, accountability, intuitive gifts, and reminds me to not “play teacher” His sensitivity and authenticity are gifts that are irreplaceable.

This book is dedicated to Sarah, who encourages me to view the wholeness and beauty of each person in this world, transcending the outer layers which sometimes are not so relationally pleasant or true.

This book is dedicated to Regan, who is the free and loving spirit of every child in this world. She churns the imagination and lets go of what she can see with only her eyes.

This book is dedicated to Sam, who quietly lives in the space between child and adult. He reminds me to nourish the quiet and gentle nature of all persons, young and old.

This book is dedicated to Spencer, “Bubby” who learns in extraordinary ways and requires the imaginative leadership of all his teachers to ignite his passions and gifts of which there are many.

This book is dedicated to Mr. Pickett. He taught from the heart and connected with one young man that will never forget his compassion and desire to serve another.

This book is dedicated to all those teachers who listen to their hearts, teach from this place of innate wisdom and serve the other in extravagant ways
©
Lori L Desautels

Introduction

Teachers change lives! For better or worse, their presence with students affects change. School environments, administrative policies, and content expertise do not hold a candle to the gentle “personal philosophy” that radiates from teachers who create relationships with their students. Techniques, strategies, and methodologies are important, but we must begin with a compassionate philosophy as the building block for securing happier, productive, and creative students, teachers, and parents. This philosophy must be discussed and shared because as simple as it is, we have forgotten the power of a compassionate presence. Compassion discussed, revered and implemented is the warm conversation we must return to. It is a conversation that must be solution oriented rather than problem oriented, and this takes incredible awareness and a shift in attitude.

There is good news in the world of educational reform because there are teachers, administrators, students, and parents who care. They care deeply and are creating positive experiences and classrooms where students feel secure and are encouraged to discover their passions, passions and innate geniuses, embracing mistakes as the greatest learning tool. This is not a book about shoveling schools out from beneath a pile of dysfunction and centralized chaos or platitudes filled with the all that is wrong or erroneous and leaving it at that! There is a growing and heightened awareness of the many challenges our schools face, and when this awareness is activated, change is inevitable.

I have been studying and researching various opposing opinions, methodologies and mandates from a national transition to teaching program, Teach for America, comparing and contrasting its premises to the intelligent and forthright writings from former educator and New York State “teacher of the year,” John Taylor Gatto. The two viewpoints and approaches appear quite opposite in structure and function but their desires for students and the desired end results may be the same?

I am currently one of the instructors for the Teach for America graduate students who are first and second year teachers in Indianapolis, Indiana, a Midwest sanction of this national transition to teaching program. I am struggling with this organization’s seemingly compulsory flavor of teaching methodology and mind set for approaching and affecting national change within our public schools. I also believe strongly in self-directed and experiential learning, the collaborative method John Taylor Gatto describes as the congregational principle from his book “Dumbing Us Down.” I believe as a culture, we have been conditioned by many factors to be extremists in our words, thoughts and behaviors, and with this attitude of absolutes, we miss out! I believe Mr. Gatto and Teach for America could benefit from a philosophy embracing a balanced perspective of rigor, assessment, and a compassionate presence. We forfeit the force that drives every individual to feel better or more successful and that is compassion- defined as an awareness of one’s struggle or suffering and a desire to assist in alleviating the suffering, because when we do- we benefit and are further able to change our perspectives, attitudes and the fluid flow of positive emotion and thought.

When we keep our eyes on a positive perspective instigating “change”, the desired outcome has a greater chance of highlighting all that is going well, while people are more open and flexible with their thoughts, words and actions. When one is negative and constricted in his initial approach about anything, defense mechanisms gear up and prepare for confrontation, the battle of right verses wrong! Our children and adolescents deserve so much more from us when it comes to their education and our preparations respectfully explored and implemented for their future.

All children are born with an excitement to explore, create, and interact. We are relational beings. Research reports that establishing and maintaining healthy relationships drives our intrinsic motivation to feel happier, secure, and increases positive emotion especially during perceived stressful events. Most children enter pre-school and kindergarten with enthusiasm and a curiosity to play and imagine, while gradually defining who they are through connecting with other children, teachers and adults.

It feels to be a time when political and educational reformers around the country and within individual states are continually developing, reinventing and rewrapping core content standards for teaching the subject areas of language arts, math, science and social studies. Although forward movement takes action, I believe at some point we must stop doing and rethink the philosophical foundation upon which these educational standards, benchmarks and core assessments are founded upon. We are entrenched inside a bureaucracy that contributes to a multi-billion dollar industry creating more standardized assessments measuring singular test scores within these subject areas calling for one solution and one right answer, and yet are we addressing the cornerstone needs of our students? Below are some questions that we must consider before we move ahead. What are those needs? Are students happy in school? Do they feel secure and safe, secure enough to make mistakes and learn from those instruments of learning? Do they feel stimulated by the instruction and content? Are they curious? Do they feel purpose and relevancy when standards and subjects are presented? Do they feel successful? How important is it for students to feel successful knowing they spend 12,000 hours plus inside classrooms and schools through a span of 12 or more years of academic preparation? Does acquiring higher test scores in math and science equate to personal fulfillment? Were the inventors of Under Armor, Google, and Disney World successful because of their high math and science scores? “How,” is one of the most important components inside the teaching and learning process. Teaching a child how to problem solve, how to critically think, and how to get along with others, while seeing diversity as a gift rather than an obstacle to penetrate is part of this global conversation. Do we stress in schools our commonalities as humans or are we subconsciously or consciously focused on our differences?

When 18 year olds enter college, the work force, or trade schools, how many of them are asking, “How do I find meaning in my life?” “What is my purpose?” “What do I do now?” How many are just living in the present moment with no idea of how to plan for a future? How many young adults at this age live for Friday night? It has been my experience as a teacher, mother, instructor in higher education and school counselor that the many of our young adults are asking, then pondering these life forming questions, feeling restless with preparation and we need to listen to them, verbally and nonverbally. When my own 19 year old son is restless, ornery and struggling, his grades in school drop, he loses things, and he is irritable. When he is taking care of “business” and aligning himself with the people, experiences, and things that will lift him up, his grades in school improve! For me, his grades are a barometer for managing life, yet this doesn’t equate to self-fulfillment or personal happiness. As educators and parents, we begin listening with a five word question that initiates the “conversation.” How may I serve you?

If world peace is truly a global desire and all individuals begin life inside the arena of a learning and teaching culture, as educators, we must become responsible for mentoring the emotional and social needs of our future world citizens. When we mentor, we do not spoon feed information, knowledge or content into the mouths of our students, as that knowledge may be irrelevant within a few years. We listen, we inquire, and then we gently guide them to their self-initiated passions and strengths. We begin to model self-initiated instruction where children and adolescents remember and re-create their strengths. We must assist our students in developing a process for: arriving at thoughts driven by feelings that create a channel for personal happiness, develop an appreciation and acceptance of our human differences, create purposeful experiences in and out of schools, coupled with a flow of ideas that never dry up! How do we begin to delve inside these notions recreating an educational system that emphasizes compassion? We begin with each student, parent and educator. We begin to focus on what is going well, what is going right, inside classrooms, schools and our homes. If we are to affect change, then turn around schools and effective leadership start with a compassionate driven perspective, one that takes time and a hard look at the benefits and obstructions of compulsory schooling. A compassion driven curriculum is neither trite nor fluffy. It is educational rigor at its finest and best practice for all.

At an early age, children do not recognize color, race, status, diversity or ethnicity in a negative or competitive light. They accept what is before them with a hearty appetite to learn, to discover. We know through the early processes of familial and societal conditioning, a child’s values, beliefs and culture are formed. These formed belief systems often times create the divisions and stereotyping of people in later years, clearly erasing much of the naïve and loving nature of that which is innate to all children in this world. Research also presents a novel view and understanding of human development that exceeds our genetic composition. We now understand that genetic inheritance is less than 50%; approximately 30% of our holistic health landscape and that environment and the enrichment of that environment or lack thereof affect the major emotional, cognitive and social functioning systems of each individual.

Here is where the critical conversation must commence. Are we able to create a balance of assessment driven mastery examining student performance and growth, as we begin dialoguing about an enriched curriculum embedded in compassion-compassion for one another, our work, education and the process of thought? To be compassionate is to be creative, innovative, accepting and appreciative for the variety of individuals, cultures, circumstances and experiences our lives generate and present. We can’t afford “not” to have this conversation! It is a way of being with one another, rather than continuing on this fast track of “doing.”

National Core Standard- Compassionate Curriculum

A compassionate curriculum will be explored and discussed in three parts. First and foremost, we must ask one another what he or she needs. How may I serve you? When we do not understand another, tempers flare, agitation is provoked and we lose sight of the aptitudes, skills, and gifts each of us contributes to one another and this educational cauldron of diversity. We then must listen and listen deeply where understanding another’s mind and heart is activated with clarity! The third component of a compassionate curriculum is “creation.” When we understand the needs of our students, parents, children and colleagues , it is only then we can begin to create a place, a presentation of subject matter, thought or ideas that aligns with another’s belief systems, abilities, interests and strengths; modeling the most significant interpersonal skill that all people need when creatively relating to one another – empathy. When we empathize with our students, colleagues, parents and business associates we intuitively open our eyes to a perspective that we might not have discovered or understood before asking, listening and designing a way to stay connected with understanding. Please join me in this process of creative envisioning as we begin to develop a curriculum, a national core standard, a platform that is the cornerstone for creating compassionate, creative and purpose driven individuals who begin to listen to one another, but mostly themselves; in the place where education begins and ends! When we discover another’s innate genius, assisting our students to reach “within,” to the heart, we inadvertently discover our passions, aptitudes and strengths as well. Inside this story, you will experience, repetitive notions, read similar concepts, hearing parallel ideas written within different contexts. Old habits die hard, and it is only through practice and repetition that new ways of relating to one another and ideas become permanent.

Before you read another page, try this little experiment. If you are struggling with someone, a family member, business partner, co-worker, etc., feeling agitated, annoyed, or misunderstood, approach them and the situation in a novel way. With an intention to listen, ask, how can I make this easier for you? What do you need? How can I help? Then observe. Observe the angst; anger and frustration gradually slip away, as the question is posed with sincerity and authenticity. This is where the magic of discovering empathy begins to open pathways of understanding and creative exploration. Learning and teaching are now able to open up to cooperative and collaborative components, where broadened perspectives drive compassion and ultimately, exceptional teaching and learning.

Is it not time to place angry and agitated nationalism, separatism, world wars, exorbitant military spending, and an intense intolerance of one another into a locked box? This worn out container holds the old stories of pedagogy and political baggage no longer applicable in this world brimming with possibility of global communication and collaboration. It is time we create space for creative service to one another, embracing a conversation that holds compassion in highest esteem and a national standard that will enhance the acquisition of educational content and skills needed in this ever changing world. I am excited for the day when my children and grandchildren will be video conferencing with students from Japan, India and China who together will create a communication and performance based assessment that will align our countries with a deepened respect for the rich diversity each holds, rather than worrying and placing competitive edges inside the hearts and souls of those who were born to relate, to inquire and wonder! We now begin…

Offering
This work I do is an offering
from my hand and heart.
Let the imagination awaken the power that
is within each student, releasing healing communion throughout the world.
Shelley Richardson

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Categories: THE BOOK

SAMPLE CHAPTER: QUESTIONS

Questions

When I was little, but old enough to converse and ask questions, my nick name was “Last Word Lori.”  This name spun a trail shadowing me into adulthood and rightfully so. I am neither proud nor ashamed of this label. It feels authentic and part of who I am or more accurately, who I am becoming.  Whether it was the last word in an argument or a question I felt compelled to ask, desiring a hearty response that felt logical and made sense was a self-induced mission.

This is a story of questions and mystery within the framework of education where all people begin in life. It is the story of the power of thought and perspective. Bundles of thoughts circulate in our minds forming beliefs, and beliefs create perspectives. We collectively label our beliefs as right, wrong, good or bad, but they are just thoughts until we give them meaning and credence. As teachers, administrators and parents we are responsible for the thoughts and perspectives we hold or evaluate. I encourage you throughout this book to explore your perspectives, seeing how rigid or pliable they feel, as you reach within your heart and mind exploring this new paradigm of teaching and learning. Contrast, exploring opposing events, provided through teaching and life occurrences is a gift IF we choose to experience it that way. When we see what we desire, we give further attention to this person or event, therefore boosting positive emotion.  When we are confronted with a situation or person that feels taxing, we can choose how we respond. If we choose anger for a brief time, slowly watching it shift to acceptance, we then are able to carve out a place for an opening heart and mind that are able to embrace thoughts that slowly improve and are increasingly productive and beneficial inside our growth and self-evolution.  We have the freedom to alter our thoughts and reflect, rather than complaining and bemoaning a relationship or experience that feels upsetting.

I believe all persons tend to struggle and become increasingly frustrated when we find ourselves entangled inside another’s problems or challenges, which is ultimately their journey. What looks bothersome to us may be just the perfect incident or circumstance for a child or adult’s self-growth and development.  I believe the flowing stream of effective and valuable education requires a malleable perspective and a keen active awareness.

Part one of this book is a collection of questions, notions, and personal antidotes highlighting the experiences of heart connections with those events and persons that assist in the authorship of our lives.  Questions about our future are bubbling with possibility as we explore and ask ourselves, who am I?  What is my purpose? What is the purpose of life?  Who am I that teaches? Why am I teaching? Who are my students?  The stories and experiences are italicized for clarification and understanding, while the research, notions and questions are discussed.

The mythology in part two of the book, will take you to an extraordinary place that is within all of us if we have the eyes to see and the imagination to experience its substance. This section draws attention to the great teachers of the past, the Sages, who assist the students and readers in moving to the heart, delving inside the active life of teaching and learning.  Part three continues to follow the young life of Gabe, a student of the Sages and a first year teacher who is learning as much about himself as he is his students, imagining the sights and sounds when teaching and learning join hands. Gabe and his experiences are replicas of the hearts, minds and experiences of the teachers I am currently mentoring, although the names and experiences have been changed. The Fellowship of Sages is a creative vision of what I hope to see, take part in and read about in future years; retired, active and deceased educators sharing journals and memoirs of their perspectives, feelings and teaching experiences in small forums throughout international and national communities.  “You cannot hate anybody if you have walked in their shoes” This is the perspective that is the work of education, compassion.

So it is with the notion of imagination and an open heart that we will travel to the unexplored territories where teacher and student meet, gently seeing one another in the eyes of the other. Education is the catalyst, the means to examine a “chaos theory” where the movement of experiences, people, and ideas occurs through a paradigm shift. Chaos theory happens when old ways break down and the new cannot be immediately seen.  It is a time when old ideals in education and therefore “life” are falling away creating space for the new.  The Sages recalled that when hearts open and curiosity piques, persons feel empowered by the guidance of their majestic thoughts and creative questions. These great teachers knew that successful education was not a matter of rigor and content verses relationship and reflection- it was both! The art of teaching and the science of teaching were becoming one discipline in this new time of living, and the children across the world would experience it in this place…

In this place, raw change occurs within, which is where every answer to life’s questions resides.

How do we successfully meet the needs of our students and parents while fulfilling our own? Unable to find what I am looking for, it is time to write. When we model and inspire an attitude of serving another, we carry the potential to create a tsunami of change that prepares the world for a reflective response – combining the intellect of the mind and heart which produces an extraordinary shift in our perspectives and capacity to deeply understand one another within education and moreover, the world.

I am fidgety and ready to share a new story or maybe one we have forgotten- a story saturated in imagination and compassion where all persons envision their gifts and potential through the wisdom of the heart and through the eyes of another. I visualize a community of learners where serving another is effortless; an expected, operative and integral facet of community life.  People are our mirrors, our looking glasses, and our roadmaps for journeying through life.  Sound strange? We look through one another’s looking glass everyday; observing, assessing, and fine tuning ourselves through the conscious or subconscious thoughts we hold within the context of the people we meet and the relationships developed. Teachers and students actively participate in life and its day to day relationships and experiences, beyond those formed inside the walls and buildings of schools. We are consciously and/or subconsciously discovering life lessons, authentic gifts from all persons we encounter -if our eyes are open.

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Categories: THE BOOK

THE BOOK

How May I Serve You, A Revelation in Education

Is there a career, social scenario, skill, or relationship that education does not impact? Education touches all our lives. When we ignore the implications schools affect in our daily existence, we narrow the possibilities, ignore the limitations, the creative and sometimes negative thoughts and feelings we subconsciously contribute inside our students’ and children’s lives.

Who was your favorite teacher? What did he say to you? What look on her face do you remember?  These remembrances are how we begin to revert back to the basics in education. It is not reading, writing, and math skills drilled into our heads. We remember the emotional connections, the relationships or lack thereof from those individuals who served us well or those who did not acknowledge who we really were and are. When did we begin to take the soul, our inner voice, out of education, our businesses and relationships? Isn’t education the hub of all professions, skilled labors, global businesses, economics, mental, emotional, political and medicinal health relationships and practices?

This book is about five words that can create a tsunami of positive emotion, and therefore genuinely affect the relationships between educators, parents, colleagues and students. How may I serve you, can be stated in a variety of ways, igniting an open response from the one who is struggling.  What do you need? How can I help you? What would be best for you?  Dialogues begin, hearts open, and deep listening starts to unravel misunderstandings of angry, bored, and frustrated individuals trying to cope in schools and in life!  This book is an experiment, an expansion of perspective because when we genuinely ask what another needs, we are showered with understanding, a novel view of tenuous situation and abundance in relationship and self-esteem we never realized we needed and desired.

Our schools are crying out for ways to soulfully and successfully meet the needs of all those who walk through their doors. President Obama and former President George Bush have promoted and declared education to be a priority, but when will we as a society begin to explore the root causes of so much dissension, perceived student failure and teacher frustration inside the arena of education?! “How May I Serve You” is a book that will ignite excitement, cause a stir, and  positively begin to change the course of education evolution as many of my graduate students are implementing the concepts, and seeing the positive results in their classrooms as I write these words!

Schools have the great privilege of teaching and sharing a life curriculum where a cognitive skill is just the the icing on the cake.  Education has the potential to lay the groundwork for empathetic and relational learning driving mastery and retention of academics to new heights, but how are we going about this art of teaching? How May I Serve You, A Revelation in Education will assist the reader in bringing back honor to education, by teaching where life and learning begins- in the heart.

The largest group of stress disorders in our country falls within the student population affecting 18-20% of children and adolescents. Declining test scores and student drop-out rates plague this environment on a daily basis.  “How May I Serve You” initiates a soul driven education that transcends the classroom, addressing the heart of learning and teaching.

The strength of this book is in its simplicity to understand and implement, acknowledging the holistic and fertile intelligence of teacher, parent, colleague and student.  In the arena of education, we have forgotten that relationship and the healing powers of serving another forge greater self-confidence, critical problem solving and an inner wisdom that responds to the questions of life purpose and desire.

As test scores drop, achievement gaps widen and students continually report feelings of boredom and frustration – building relationships with our students is an experience that we cannot afford to overlook. “How May I Serve You” is a story of connection; the powerful life force that carries the keys to a new kingdom inside education and inside our communities. “How May I Serve You” is unique in its desire to transcend methods, strategies and tools for higher achievement and manufactured test scores. When students, educators and parents feel frustrated and ineffective, perspectives narrow, while negative emotion closes off doorways to possibility and creative envisioning.

Education cannot forge ahead in a direction that mandates change without going inward and exploring the root cause of our academic and emotional gaps. This story discusses  the age of educational accountability, change and leadership, moving to the “heart” of authentically  exploring and responding to the needs of all those who walk through the doors of our homes, schools, businesses and our lives. This is a book for educators, parents, business professionals and students embracing relationships and the innate well being inside all persons -waiting to be awakened and renewed.

How May I Serve You, A Revelation in Education is unique in its content and style. It is written in three specific parts with a mixture of creative non-fiction and educational mythology. I once read that “what is real is not always true and what is true is not always real,” and I feel this is an important facet of thought in this book and story. Part one asks questions. It engages the reader into a discussion of education evolution. Part two takes the reader into archetypal educational mythology where the children of the world discover the treasures of the most important relationship they will ever develop…one with themselves.  Part three is the story of how I envision education in our future through a creative and novel, but possible setting.  What does it look like as new teachers from transition to teaching programs imagining the best in their students and especially themselves?

My teaching and research of 25 years in elementary, secondary and higher education has provided great contrast and wisdom for what I envision in our homes, classrooms and in our world. It becomes increasingly apparent how heart intelligence jump starts relational learning in every classroom. How may I serve you? What do you need? How can I help? What can I do? These questions form the foundation for positive changes inside the arena of education and the world.

Lori L Desautels, Ph.D.

Excerpts from Two Extraordianry Teachers from the Indianapolis Teaching Fellow found in my new book hopefully to be published in the next six months!

Projects

 

Last Saturday in our concluding graduate class of the semester, I asked the teachers/students to present their final projects sharing their blueprints of an inclusive classroom, a classroom that was the ultimate in emotional, physical, and collaborative effect promoting heightened interest, passionate learning and a heart for life skills.   They were informed that the project could be presented in the format and style that best suited their learning style and personal strengths. Jeff Truelock, a first year secondary math teacher and graduate student with the Indianapolis Teaching Fellows wrote an outstanding proposal to the President of the United States. What follows is an excerpt of Jeff’s letter and brilliantly written proposal emphasizing the importance of relationship and brain based education inside our classrooms. 

  Abstract

            This proposal to the United States Federal Government is a brief request to initiate a nationwide assault on education.  The author believes that the deconstructing of methods of old and the rebuilding of a timely and more globally relevant education system is overdue and imperative to the success and security of the United States.  The author makes claims which are supported by extensive research and practicality of brain-based inclusion teaching methods and techniques

Final Blueprint Project

Federally Funded Brain-Based Inclusive Classroom Proposal

            In sharp contrast to old-school lectures and pop quizzes to scare students into learning; this project seeks to encourage the involvement of students in their own learning from the beginning to the end; from creating the test to grading it and analyzing mistakes.  Students who are cognizant of what is expected of them and have the opportunity to illustrate their mastery of the standards in the style in which they feel most comfortable, instead of being cornered into one high-stakes multiple choice test, research shows that these students are more likely to succeed (Stiggins, 2008).  Moreover, it is in our nature as humans to do perform up to standards when we know exactly what is expected of us.  Why would we deny our students the same courtesy and not include them in their own learning?  The days of fear reigning in the classroom are long since passed.  The days of progressive education are upon us, and as educators, if we fail to seize the methods and include our students from the very beginning, we are working in vain and our fruits will spoil over one short summer break. 

As one of my heroes, educator and author Rafe Esquith, would say, “We can do better.”  I am a middle school math teacher; not working for the government (maximizing my degree in Russian language), because I know we can do better.  Volunteering in the Campaign for Change as a block captain in Southern Indiana and seeing what can happen when we all work together continues to give me the confidence to take on the challenge of teaching in a high needs urban school; and I am reminded that we can do better.  I love my students and am serving my country in a way that I never thought possible.  I have dispensed with the idea of government work or attending law school, and plan to remain in the classroom for as long as my superiors allow.  So, after my first year teaching, I feel bold enough, and somehow connected to the Administration, to ask for your consideration of a Federally Funded Brain-Based Inclusive Classroom Program (FBICP) to be piloted in six states in three different regions of the country for two years.  The number of schools with brain-based inclusive curricula doubles every two year term given at least a 90% increase in achievement until all public school systems in the United States thusly operate.  Funds for this program can be made available by implementing hefty fines for cell phone usage on federal highways, taxing big oil, and using funds already existing in the federal education budget allocated for technology.  Unions would also be encouraged to contribute to the new FBICP, as would private donors and philanthropic organizations and individuals.  

 As a first year teacher, I have realized that teaching to a high-stakes test is really all a teacher has time to do.  Between the redundant “professional development” sessions that are required by the school district in which I work, and the mediocre classes that I am required to take in order to earn a Master’s in Teaching and become certified as a middle school math teacher in Indiana, there are few days to actually teach the material that my students have to master before high-stakes assessments that are given at a rate of five tests every 18 weeks.  The work is not the issue.  It can be done and it is being done every day in a middle school math classroom in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The key to making this happen is 100% engagement, 100% of the time.  Engaging the students in conversation is the first step to building a safe, fun classroom environment underpinned by respect, empowerment, and inclusion.  Simply being mindful of the students’ techno-speak and abilities bridges most gaps to creating such an environment.

            Most students at any level in their education know or remember the feeling: getting onto the bus on a cold December morning, the freezing vinyl seat creeping through hand-me-down corduroys, stomach in knots—partly because of the test you are getting ready to fail, and partly because you were afraid to/unable to eat this morning, palms sweating, clammy cheeks, and then the bell rings.  If only you knew exactly what was going to be on this test.  Instead, your instructor assigned a list of readings and tons of homework problems for you to do, sometimes returning your work in time for you to use as a study guide, sometimes not.  No one deserves to be treated that way.  No one should be tormented or put under this much stress.  There are multiple ways to assess whether or not we know what we know.  Echoing educator Rick Stiggins, if we know how to find the answer, that is just as good as knowing the answer.  Yet, there are many who hesitate to use or allow students to use calculators or claim that using calculators on a math test is cheating.  I sincerely beg to differ.  Expanding on this, I offer an analogy of the carpenter driving a nail into a wall.  I ask students if they have ever seen a carpenter drive a nail with her fist.  Of course they haven’t.  She uses her tool—her hammer.  So if students use a graphing calculator to help them properly calculate the total of an obscene list of integers, so what!  They know how to use the technology that everyone else is using in the real world to come up with answers.  Moreover, technology helps improve my students’ understanding vis-à-vis significant increases in their self-efficacy, respective self images, and confidence.  Undeniably, too many students are using technology everywhere but in the classroom; as they walk down the street, in the halls and bathrooms of the very schools that forbid cell phones, at home on the X-Box or Wii.  There is no reason that our children should not be just as engaged in the classroom as they are when texting one another in the bathroom during fourth period.

            In order to properly establish and maintain a brain-based inclusive classroom worthy of line-items in the federal education budget providing the necessary technologies to keep students engaged, three components must be implemented at the classroom level.

            1. The classroom culture must be based in morality, from which we derive expectations, procedures and classroom guidelines, NOT “rules.”  It is imperative to step out of the box of traditional “rules” as this creates more power struggles between teacher and student.  I taught with a “veteran” teacher last summer and he had two separate sets of rules for his classroom: one set for the students and another for the teachers.  The time I spent teaching with him during summer school was a crash course in how NOT to set up my classroom.  In the FBICP classroom, guidelines are rooted in morality, as explained in Kohleberg’s Theory of Moral Development, from which stems expectations of behavior.  In order for the students to understand why there are procedures for classroom activities, they must see what underlines those procedures in order to comprehend their existence.  Too many of my colleagues, first through third year teachers, experience their greatest challenges in the arena of classroom management.  My colleagues’ failure to relate to the students on a human level, through morality, expectations, and procedures, is a significant hurdle in their ability to close the achievement gap, and I cannot help but to think that this same plaguing educator-mentality is preventing many, many more kids from seeing their full academic and social potential realized.  The physical space of the classroom must reflect the population of the student body.  That is, diversity is paramount in students’ ability to reach their highest goals.  Having posters representing examples of masters in the subject area who reign from all countries of the earth, builds and can strengthen the students’ self image and overall academic achievement.  As Jaime Escalante said to motivate his students, “Math is in your blood.”  When the kids realize that they are innately able to do anything, we give them technology and watch them fly.

            2.  Classroom management styles must be non-confrontational and respectful of

            students’ differing and STILL DEVELOPING personality traits and temperaments.  Guidelines, not rules, should be constructed as a class, teacher and students, and posted in the classroom as a reminder.  If the issue of management starts with a discussion on morality with the students, the students respond positively and are engaged because they    feel respected and that they are being treated as equals.  Ask the students what they do face with a moral dilemma and talk it out.  From this discussion comes a discussion about expectations of behavior since we are all human and will learn from one another.   After expectations are discussed, the class as a whole constructs the guidelines for the classroom.  The guidelines do NOT state “Students will…”  Rather, the guidelines are to be inclusive of students, teachers, and anyone else who enters the classroom.  The following is the set of guidelines is recommended:

                        1.  We will RESPECT one another; property, spaces, and ideas.

                        2.  We will EMPOWER one another to learn from one another.

                        3.  We will INCLUDE one another in our reciprocal learning experiences.

                        4.  We will ACCOUNT for one another; in and out of the classroom.

            3.  Powerful and meaningful experiences follow naturally when classroom management structures are in place that allow for all to feel welcome, safe, and capable of having fun.   Respecting and trusting the students FIRST is imperative.  For some students, this is a big           first and the door is open for the manifestation of the dreams of those children.  There will be those who test the system, for whom we have consequences which are fair and administered in a timely and non-embarrassing manner.  Powerful and meaningful experiences can be the result of a showdown between a student and teacher; the result of properly administered consequences.  Consistency and limitations are elements that all children crave; understandably so, as they are signs of love and respect.  Furthermore, when students see that they have an impact, not unlike what I saw in November of 2008, their self-efficacy can be increased and motivation is a likely result.  For example, in order to teach data analysis to students, my students and I are completing a project on teen homelessness in Indianapolis.  In other classes, we have learned Geometry by taking the classroom outside to pick up trash and litter on campus, identifying shapes and using formulas to make calculations.  When the students are able to unleash a little energy and a lot of imagination, teaching automatically becomes facilitation instead of monotonous, old-school lectures, memorization, and direct instruction.

            Mr. President, I beseech you to begin true progressive education reform by initializing the FBICP.  The outline of classroom level elements to be implemented has been provided in order to ensure the students’ and teachers’ respective abilities to be in an environment where technology and developing relationships can be continuously explored and used.  All students in the pilot schools will need the following items:

                        TI-84+ Texas Instruments Graphing Calculator

                        iPad or PC laptop

All schools will need to be updated with the latest wireless technology and classroom technologies, such as LCD projectors and screens, document cameras, laptops/PCs/iPads, and media towers consisting of audio/visual technologies (Blue Ray/DVD player, local cable).  A specific invoice will be issued upon your approval and funding of the program.

            WE can make a difference.  With the proper technology and educational environments, yes we can.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jeffrey A. Truelock

Harshman Middle School

Indianapolis, Indiana

 

Fall 2009

Magnificent Teaching

Walter E.  Nordstrom

Indianapolis Teaching Fellows

I received a phone call Friday from a student with an EH I had in my Speech and Journalism classes for four months. I teach in a residential facility, so my students come and go frequently. She was successfully discharged and now attends a public high school nearby. At one point in her residency, she had written a story she didn’t intend for me to see. It encompassed the details of my demise at her hand. I found it and confronted her. It was a call for help and I recognized it as such. Instead of reacting with anger, I critiqued it and encouraged her to rewrite it and make it more effective. She didn’t rewrite that story, but she did begin to put more effort into her writing in both of my classes. I continued to encourage her and point out the strengths in her writing. I was also able to get her to revise more willingly by approaching it from the standpoint of making something good into something great. She called me last Friday to let me know that she is on the newspaper and the yearbook at her new school. She also took second place in a news writing contest recently. This being the first call of this sort that I have ever received; I wasn’t sure exactly how to react. So I was just honest with her and told her that I knew she could do whatever she put her mind to. I couldn’t be more proud.

 

There are the teachers that teach of life journeys, reflection and compassion as an innate intelligence, an inherent part of their curriculum.  They embrace a natural understanding in the face of adversity, seeing through the veils of unpleasant behaviors and hate-filled words. They remember the children, seeing their own successes and struggles in their students’ eyes. 

Fall 2009

Magnificent Teaching

Walter E.  Nordstrom

Indianapolis Teaching Fellows

 

I received a phone call Friday from a student with an EH I had in my Speech and Journalism classes for four months. I teach in a residential facility, so my students come and go frequently. She was successfully discharged and now attends a public high school nearby. At one point in her residency, she had written a story she didn’t intend for me to see. It encompassed the details of my demise at her hand. I found it and confronted her. It was a call for help and I recognized it as such. Instead of reacting with anger, I critiqued it and encouraged her to rewrite it and make it more effective. She didn’t rewrite that story, but she did begin to put more effort into her writing in both of my classes. I continued to encourage her and point out the strengths in her writing. I was also able to get her to revise more willingly by approaching it from the standpoint of making something good into something great. She called me last Friday to let me know that she is on the newspaper and the yearbook at her new school. She also took second place in a news writing contest recently. This being the first call of this sort that I have ever received; I wasn’t sure exactly how to react. So I was just honest with her and told her that I knew she could do whatever she put her mind to. I couldn’t be more proud.

 

There are the teachers that teach of life journeys, reflection and compassion as an innate intelligence, an inherent part of their curriculum.  They embrace a natural understanding in the face of adversity, seeing through the veils of unpleasant behaviors and hate-filled words. They remember the children, seeing their own successes and struggles in their students’ eyes.

 

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